University can be tough. Constantly juggling coursework, exams, work, extracurriculars, and a social life can easily lead to burnout and exhaustion, especially without a proper support system. Mental health support is not a one-size-fits-all solution for students, since there are so many different stressors a university student can face, including their academic performance, financial challenges, and loneliness. Regardless, resources are available, and the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) Health & Counselling Centre (HCC) hosts weekly drop-in wellness workshops to help with many of these stressors.
Hosted at the Wellness Den in Room 2077A of the William G. Davis Building, Wellness 101 Workshops are offered every Wednesday from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m., and are open to all UTM students looking to improve their wellness or their mental health literacy. Some past workshop topics have included sleep, staying active, financial wellness, and more. The Medium reached out to the UTM HCC through email to learn more about the Wellness Den and their Wellness 101 Workshops.
The Wellness Den emphasizes the use of a “Stepped Care” approach to student mental health, which highlights personalized, accessible care options. The HCC explains that this Stepped Care approach “empowers students to explore personalized care options that meet their unique needs, strengths, and level of readiness,” which helps normalize and validate self-care among students.
Wellness 101 Workshops are designed to tackle a wide variety of topics and concerns in an intimate workshop setting. The structure and content of each workshop is unique. Students can expect anywhere from 2 to 12 peers in attendance, as well as different levels of formality. “Some workshops can be very formal and feature presentation slides and handouts, while others can be very discussion and Q&A based.”
The goal of the Wellness 101 Workshops is to guide students in embedding wellness strategies into their daily routines. The talks are designed to create a supportive, low-commitment space for students to access mental health support. They also serve as a space for students to share their own experiences with one another, focusing on the benefits of group therapy.
Attendees of Wellness 101 sessions can learn about mental well-being in a group setting. Though group settings may be daunting for some, especially when it comes to opening up about personal struggles, the HCC explains that they receive consistently positive feedback from students who have attended group therapy. “The feedback speaks positively about not only the learning and skill building that takes place in a group but also about how attending groups led to them feeling less alone, validated the way they were feeling, and helped them to realize that what they were experiencing wasn’t unusual or strange.”
Some future Wellness 101 Workshops to look forward to include understanding Indigenous approaches to wellness, optimizing motivations, and how to improve sleep quality. The next Wellness 101 session will be held on November 8, focusing on academic wellness and the correlation between mental health and academics. The Wellness Den also takes suggestions from the UTM community for future Wellness 101 Workshop topics. Interested individuals can find and sign up for Wellness 101 Workshops by registering on the UTM Health & Counselling Centre website.
The Wellness Den offers many other resources for students to work on their mental well-being. These include peer mentorship, mindfulness practice and self-care activities, as well as other educational workshops and drop-in sessions. The Wellness Den also helps direct students to mental health resources available both on- and off-campus.